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Money Museum - Barter in Colonial America
Coins were scarce during the early colonial period, and much of the meager supply available went to pay for imported goods. Short of cash to spend at home, the settlers used tobacco, rice, corn, and numerous other commodities to buy goods and services and pay debts.
Pelts were used to pay court fines and debts to buy goods. Sought after by fashionable Europeans, the skins became important export items.
Musket Balls  
Circulated as money at a farthing (1/4 penny) a piece.
Iron Nails  
Even such important objects as nails occasionally served as substitutes for scarce coins.
Farm Products  
Corn and tobacco were the most important of the farm products that came into use as money substitutes. Both were declared legal tender and could be used to pay taxes and other debts.
Indians traded with strings and belts of polished beads known as wampum. Colonies soon adopted wampum as a commodity currency.


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